Gesa Credit Union last year helped Safe Harbor Support Center keep its doors open. Now it is working to help families stay out of bad situations.
The Richland credit union presented Safe Harbor with a $15,000 check Thursday to go toward financial education courses for people of all ages.
The money supports a year of the classes, which will be provided free of charge to the users of the Kennewick nonprofit support center and homeless teen shelter.
“When people have trauma in their life, if finance isn’t a direct cause of the situation, it’s usually involved in the situation,” Gesa CEO Don Miller said. “It’s amazing how many people don’t have a good grasp on financial activity for their own family.”
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The classes will teach people about checking accounts, as well as what they need to do to improve their credit scores or get credit cards, he said.
Gesa last year agreed to match donations to Safe Harbor up to $15,000 after the facility took a $156,000 revenue hit because of changes at the state level. It laid off or furloughed 11 staff members.
The campaign ended up raising $90,649.
Safe Harbor has been able to restructure and reopen programs since then because of donations, said Karen Kirk-Brockman, the center's executive director. They include the Incredible Years, an evidence-based parenting program that teaches parents about trauma and its effect on children.
For children between 2 and 4, the center has Taming the Dragons, where kids learn to self-regulate their behavior, she said.
It also has mandatory parenting seminars for divorcing parents and the My Friends Place teen shelter.
“It’s not a reality TV show, and I can’t stress to you enough that without a place for these kids to be safe, their lives are at stake,” she said. “Whether the youth is with us for a week or a month, whether they need a respite from an abusive home or a safe place away from a gang that has been trafficking them.”
She credited Gesa with allowing them to bring back and regrow the programs.
“I told other groups that places such as Gesa are the bridge to what was and what can be,” she said.